Seattle, Wash., Mar 11, 2020 / 16:45 pm
The Archdiocese of Seattle will indefinitely suspend public Masses in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has left at least 31 dead in Washington, along with 375 people in the state who have tested positive for the virus.
“I want to acknowledge the best science that is out there, that basically says despite our best efforts, this epidemic is going to continue to spread, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing everything we possibly can to restrict the spread of this virus and of this epidemic,” Archbishop Paul Etienne said in a video released Wednesday afternoon.
“So I am going to ask that all of our parishes in western Washington, in the Archdiocese of Seattle, effective today, suspend the celebration publicly of the Eucharist.”
“As we all know, this is out of an extreme measure of caution,” he added. “Out of an extreme caution, we want to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Catholic schools in Seattle will also be closed for the next two weeks, after Seattle Public Schools announced their closure.
A March 11 letter from the archdiocesan schools office explained that “we have decided that our Catholic schools will follow the lead of the local public school districts. If a local public school district closes, then the Catholic schools within that district's boundaries wil close.
Seattle's Catholic schools will be closed until March 30, as will be public schools in the city.
In his video, the archbishop encouraged Catholics to stay at home if they are ill, to practice good hygiene and social distancing. He also encouraged prayer for medical providers and caretakers.